Thursday, May 26, 2022 |
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Léo Azambuja – Special to The Garden Island
The romantic comedy every European lover has been waiting for is finally playing. “When in Rome” takes us on a journey through New York, including the Central Park, the Guggenheim Museum, and even a restaurant where customers dine in total darkness, helped by waiters with night-vision goggles. Oh yeah, Rome does play a small part in the movie.
The gorgeous Kristen Bell and the tabloid-tourist Josh Duhamel play the romantic pair in a comedy that brings Danny Devito, Don Johnson and Anjelica Huston as supporting actors.
Bell plays Beth, an alpha dog who will go to any length to be successful at her work, a Guggenheim Museum curator. Her workaholic personality leads her to lose her boyfriend, who is now engaged to another woman. Somehow we just don’t buy it; Bell doesn’t quite impersonate her career-driven character.
Beth’s sister decides to get married only two weeks after meeting an Italian hunk, and the wedding will be in Rome. We are greeted to an amazing sightseeing of Rome during an even more amazingly-short sequence. From then on, the only part of Rome we will see is the interior a church and the Love Fountain in which Beth jumps in and steals a few coins.
Turns out that by stealing the coins, she has cast a spell on those who threw the coins in the fountain. She now has five suitors who inexplicably found her in New York, and will stop at nothing in their pursuit of happiness.
The only way Beth can reverse the spell is by returning the coins to the fountain. However, she has to do it herself, back in Rome, which can be a problem, since she’s tied up planning the biggest exhibit of her career in the famed museum.
The completely unimaginative plot is matched by dull and pathetic jokes. Even the great Anjelica Huston gets lost in such a deplorable comedy. Don Johnson was probably happy just by showing his face after being almost completely forgotten.
Bell was incredibly more believable as a mutant in the TV series Heroes. Duhamel, at least a foot taller than Bell, looked like every bit of a mismatch as a romantic counterpart.
It’s no surprise “When in Rome” is such a lackluster movie. Filmmaker Mark Steven Johnson also directed “Daredevil” and “Ghost Rider,” completely destroying two of Marvel’s most in-depth super heroes.
“When in Rome” does have its rare moments of grace and humor. Italian artist Antonio brings his tiny Vespa car (yep, they’re not all about mopeds) to New York. When inquired about the diminutive size of his ride, he says “In Italy this is a mid-size car.”
Time is not on Beth’s side, and while stuck in traffic, she asks Antonio to drive like in Italy. This European country probably has the craziest traffic on Earth, possibly worse than Indonesia and China, or even Brazil, where drivers have the naughty habit of driving with a gun under their seat.
As an inside joke, Duhamel meets Shakille O’Neill (misspelled on purpose), and the basketball star gives the sports writer grief for misspelling his name. Reporters might write the most distorted stories and get away with. A misspelled name, however, is reason enough to crucify someone in real life.
Alexis Dziena, playing Beth’s sister, looked a lot more comfortable in front of the cameras, and deserves a leading role soon.
Dax Shepard, as the self-absorbed, narcissistic wanna-be model brings the funniest scenes in the movie, generating some genuine laughs in those forgettable 91 minutes of dull reel.
Wailua resident Nancy Hunt brought her granddaughter Ashley, together with friend Genevieve in last week’s Furlough Friday.
Nancy thought the movie was cute. She liked the art shown in the Guggenheim Museum and also the dance number after the ending. She has never been to Rome, but said the idea of going there is romantic.
Genevieve liked the whole movie, and especially Josh Duhamel, who she said was handsome.
Ashley liked the tiny Vespa car, and said the movie inspired her to go to Europe. She said that if she ever makes it to Rome she will not pick up any coins in the Love Fountain.
If you ever make it to Italy, just remember that when in Rome, try to spend a lot more time enjoying the local culture, food and people than “When in Rome” actually did.
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